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General, Sir Martin Baker Farndale, KCB

General, Sir Martin Baker Farndale, KCB

Male 1929 - 2000  (71 years)

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  • Name Martin Baker Farndale 
    Title General, Sir 
    Suffix KCB 
    Born 06 Jan 1929  Trochu, Alberta, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    • Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
    • Educated at Yorebridge Grammar School and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Sir Martin Farndale was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1948. He went to the Staff College, Camberley in 1959.

      In 1969 he was appointed Commanding Officer of 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery which was deployed to Northern Ireland at the early stages of The Troubles.

      In 1973 he was appointed Commander of 7th Armoured Brigade in Germany before, in 1978, he returned to the UK to become Director of Operations at the Ministry of Defence in which role he had to organise the disarming of guerillas in order to facilitate the creation of the future nation of Zimbabwe.

      He was appointed General Officer Commanding 2nd Armoured Division in Germany in 1980.

      In 1983, he became GOC of 1st British Corps.

      Finally, in 1985, he was made GOC of British Army of the Rhine and Northern Army Group.

      In retirement he wrote four volumes of the History of the Royal Artillery
    Died 10 May 2000  England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Obit 13 May 2000  The Telegraph Find all individuals with events at this location 

    • General Sir Martin Farndale
      Commander who oversaw the two biggest British military exercises held since D-Day

      GENERAL SIR MARTIN FARNDALE, former Commander-in-Chief, the British Army of the Rhine, and Commander, Northern Army Group, who has died aged 71, had a dynamic, inspiring personality which made him successful and popular in a wide variety of projects and several theatres of action.
      Urbane, slightly unmilitary in appearance, and softly spoken with a faint lisp, Farndale was relaxed, self-confident and wholly unpretentious. His fellow Nato generals acknowledged him to be one of the most gifted field commanders in the alliance, and knew that his skill as a tactician was informed by a compendious knowledge of military history.
      "If you want to go the full 15 rounds with Martin," an American general once commented, "you'd better be prepared to learn that your pet new tactic, which you had toyed with the idea of naming after yourself, was first devised and used in battle by the Romans."
      In 1984, as Commander of 1st (British) Corps, BAOR, Farndale oversaw Exercise Lionheart, manoeuvres involving 131,000 British troops, including tens of thousands of Territorials and Army Reservists, and extending over 3,700 square miles. Lionheart, intended to test BAOR's reinforcement plans, was the biggest British military exercise to be held since the Second World War.
      As Commander-in-Chief, BAOR, from 1985 to 1987, Farndale worked doggedly to implement a revised "concept of operations" for the Northern Army Group. Under this, the five nations involved agreed to fight under Farndale's direct battlefield command, according to an agreed defensive doctrine and standardised procedures. In the event of a Russian invasion, the new plans, he explained in 1987, would enable Nato forces to "bide our time and then strike viciously, at the time of our choosing, at an exposed flank or sector".
      These new operational plans were tested in 1987 during Exercise Certain Strike, the largest and most complex field exercise of its type staged in Europe since the D-Day landings in 1944.
      Later, in his capacity as chairman of Royal Artillery Museums, Farndale's drive to establish the RA Museum at Woolwich (which is due to be opened in May 2001) earned him the nickname "Project Champion"; all noted the tremendous energy he showed in fundraising, leadership and organisation. After leaving the Army he had a successful career in industry and as a writer.
      Martin Baker Farndale, of Yorkshire farming ancestry, was born in Alberta, Canada, on January 6 1929 and went to Yorebridge Grammar School, Yorkshire.
      Having joined the Army in 1946, he attended Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1948. After early service in an anti-aircraft unit on the Suez Canal, he was selected for the 1st Royal Horse Artillery, with whom he served in Germany from 1952 to 1954. He was then posted for three years to HQ 7th Armoured Division, and after that attended the Staff College, Camberley. This was followed by another staff post - with HQ, 17 Gurkha Division, in Malaya.
      From 1962 to 1964 Farndale commanded a Chestnut Troop in 1st RHA in Germany and in Aden, where he saw action. He was an instructor at the Staff College from 1966 to 1969, and then was for two years in Northern Ireland, commanding 1st RHA, the first gunner regiment to serve as infantry in Belfast.
      After a spell on the defence policy staff at the Ministry of Defence, he commanded 7th Armoured Brigade in Germany; and then from 1976 to 1978 he was Director of Public Relations for the Army.
      In the latter post he was a great success, being a fluent and amusing speaker as well as being able to cope at short notice with questions about embarrassing incidents which occasionally occur even in the best conducted units.
      He was Director of Military Operations at the Ministry of Defence from 1978 to 1980, during which time he was involved in the arrangements for Rhodesia's independence as Zimbabwe. He went on to command 2nd Armoured Division in BAOR from 1980 to 1983; and thereafter spent the rest of his Army career in Germany, first as Commander of 1st (British) Corps from 1983 to 1985 and then as Commander-in-Chief, BAOR.
      After retirement, Farndale became a director and senior defence adviser of Short Bros, and defence adviser to Deloitte Touche.
      For eight years he also held the appointment of Master Gunner, St James's Park, an office dating back to the 17th century. The Master Gunner's principal duty is to keep the Queen, who is Captain General of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, informed of all matters pertaining to the Royal Artillery.
      Farndale was Colonel Commandant of the Army Air Corps (1980-88), of the Royal Artillery from 1982 and of the RHA from 1988. He was chairman of the Royal United Services Institute (1989-93), and a consultant to Westland Helicopters (1989-95).
      From 1993 he was chairman of the Battlefield Trust, which, under the auspices of English Heritage, endeavours to preserve historic battlefields from being destroyed by roadworks or building projects.
      Farndale succeeded in saving the site of the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471) from developers. Martin Farndale was also a prolific writer. He wrote a four volume account of the history of the Royal Artillery, covering the years 1914-1998, as well as writing many articles for the British Army Review and the Royal Artillery Journal. He was also interested in genealogy and had traced his family back to 1615.
      He was appointed CB in 1980 and KCB in 1983.
      He married, in 1955, Anne Buckingham; they had a son
    Obit 15 May 2000  The Times, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 

      General Sir Martin Farndale, KCB, C-in-C BAOR and Commander Northern Army Group, 1985-87, was born on January 6, 1929. He died on May 10 aged 71

      MARTIN FARNDALE might well have become the Chief of General Staff - the professional head of the Army - if timings had fitted better and if the Falklands campaign of 1982 had not swung defence thinking away from its over-emphasis upon European defence towards the greater likelihood of threats arising outside the Nato area. The latter half of Farndale's career had been centred almost exclusively upon the British Army of the Rhine. He commanded in succession its 7th Armoured Brigade, 2nd Armoured Division, 1st British Corps and finally, in 1985, BAOR and Northern Army Group, giving him a European Central Front bias at a time when rapid reaction forces for worldwide deployment were coming into vogue.
      Martin Baker Farndale was born in Alberta, Canada, of Yorkshire parentage and brought up and educated back in Yorkshire at Yorebridge School. He was just too young to see service in the Second World War, but joined the Indian Army in 1946.
      After Indian Independence in 1947, he transferred to the British Army and was sent to Sandhurst, which had just reopened as the Royal Military Academy. He was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1948.
      Farndale was rather a private person with the single-mindedness of purpose and professional integrity needed for a successful military career. He was always "on duty" in both an intellectual and military sense, and although he was punctilious about military niceties he was, paradoxically, relaxed and approachable with a typical Yorkshire forthrightness. These qualities made him immensely respected and liked throughout the Army.
      His hallmarks were enthusiasm for the matter in hand and avoidance of self-advertisement. He was, indeed, a generous, humane and caring man with more than a touch of humility.
      He started his military career in the 80th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment in the Suez Canal Zone, but his command abilities were soon recognised with his selection for the elite Royal Horse Artillery. He joined 1st Regiment RHA in 1950 with which he was to serve on and off for the next twenty-one years.
      During his first tour he was in E and then B Batteries in BAOR. His abilities as a potential staff officer were equally quickly recognised when he was posted to the Royal Artillery Staff of 7th Armoured Division at Verden, Lower Saxony, in 1954. He went to the Staff College, Camberley, in 1959 after a spell with 53rd (Louisberg) Battery and as Adjutant of the 22nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. At Camberley he showed himself to be exceptionally articulate, both verbally and on paper, with a sensible balanced approach and a nice sense of humour. He was perhaps disappointed not to get a General Staff appointment after graduating. Instead he was sent to the Gunner staff with 17th Gurkha Division in the Far East, where he saw active service during the final phases of the Malayan campaign.
      His first General Staff appointment came in 1963 when he served for two years in the Military Operations Directorate of the War Office and then the Ministry of Defence during the withdrawal from Empire of the mid-1960s, in which he was soon to be involved personally. He returned to 1st RHA in 1964 in command of the Chestnut Troop, which he took out to Aden for the Radfan campaign, fought in the arid mountains of the Protectorate.
      His outstanding abilities were recognised when he went back to the Staff College for three years as an instructor in 1966, and was then given command of 1st RHA in 1969. He had the unique distinction of being the first artillery commanding officer to take his regiment to Northern Ireland to serve as infantry on the streets of Belfast in the earliest years of the Troubles.
      Two years followed on the Defence Policy Staff in the Ministry of Defence while the Heath Government was trying unsuccessfully to reverse the British military cutbacks set in train by Denis Healey's defence reviews. In 1973 he was promoted to brigadier and started his rise to high command.
      His first major command was in Germany with 7th Armoured Brigade at Soltau in Lower Saxony. His easy fluency with the press and media led to him becoming a highly successful Director of the Army's Public Relations before he was promoted major-general as the Director of Military Operations from 1978 to 1980 during the final phases of the guerrilla campaign in Rhodesia in the aftermath of Ian Smith's unilateral declaration of independence. He was largely responsible for setting up the British Monitoring Force, which helped to end the guerrilla war and to bring about an independent Zimbabwe.
      He was back in BAOR commanding, in succession, and without any further breaks away on the Staff: 2nd Armoured Division, 1981-83; 1st British Corps, 1983-85; and finally Northern Army Group and BAOR, 1985-87.
      He became very much a Nato man, and was widely respected in international military circles for his deep understanding of continental warfare as it might have been fought in the 1980s. He was appointed CB in 1980 and KCB in 1983.
      Farndale retired from the Army in January 1988 and took up a number of appointments connected with the armaments industry. Since 1988 he had been a defence adviser to Deloitte Touche, and he was also a consultant to Somerset-based Westland Helicopters, 1989-95. He was also a very active chairman of the Royal United Services Institution.
      His principal hobby was writing definitive histories of the Royal Artillery to which he was devoted: His History of the Royal Artillery, France, 1914-18 was published in 1987 and his History of the Royal Artillery; The Forgotten Fronts and the Home Base, 1914-18, in 1988.
      He was also the author of volume V of The History of the Royal Artillery in the Second World War (The Years of Defeat, 1939-41) which appeared in 1996, and of volume VI (The Far East Theatre, 1941-46), which will be published posthumously.
      He was thus a happy choice as Master Gunner of St James's Park, the honorary appointment that he assumed in November 1988 as well as being Colonel Commandant of the RHA, Honorary Colonel of 1st Regiment RHA and of the 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Volunteers - his home county - and Colonel Commandant of the Army Air Corps.
      From 1989 Farndale championed the Royal Artillery Museum Project to create a new museum in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich to house the vast regimental collection of guns, medals, books and archives. He became president and later chairman of the project, and it was through his inspiration, leadership and his abundant reserves of forceful energy that money was raised from a variety of sources: the regiment itself, industry, individual benefactors, trusts and national funds. He lived to see the start of the building programme which is scheduled to culminate in the opening of the new museum in May next year.
      In 1955 he married Margaret Anne Buckingham. They had one son, who followed his father into the Royal Artillery. Both wife and son survive him
    Occupation England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    a soldier 
    Person ID I16579  Mote/McInnes
    Last Modified 16 Apr 2012 

    Father Alfred Farndale,   b. 05 Jul 1897, Tidkinhowe Farm, Stranghow Moor, near Guisborough, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 May 1987, Rutson Hospital, Northallerton, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 89 years) 
    Mother Margaret Louise Baker 
    Married 16 Mar 1928  Bedale Parish Church, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Family ID F4665  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Married 1955  Findon Church, Findon, West Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 11 Dec 2021 
    Family ID F4666  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1955 - Findon Church, Findon, West Sussex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 10 May 2000 - England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - a soldier - - England Link to Google Earth
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  • Photos
    General Sir Martin Farndale KCB

  • Sources 
    1. [S192] The Farndale Directory.

    2. [S192] The Farndale Directory, History of Alfred Farndale.